LONDON (eTN) – Transport Minister Paul Clark has announced that an extra £66 million (US$96.4 million) to improve local roads in England has been allocated.
According to the minister, the funding, which is in addition to the £2.1 billion (US$3 billion) already provided for highways maintenance, will allow councils to make improvements to important local roads, bringing benefits to local people and businesses.
“High quality local road networks are vital to communities; connecting people with work, shops, services, families and friends,” Transport Minister Paul Clark said. “This additional funding will allow local authorities to carry out improvements to important local highways bringing benefits to all who use the roads.”
This funding will be used to carry out improvements such as road resurfacing, bridge maintenance, street lighting and flood protection. The first £32 million (US$46.8 million) will be made available from April so councils can start planning improvements immediately. The remainder will be provided from April 2010.
In addition, the UK government has also expressed its interest in boosting rail services. Passengers in many parts country could benefit from a new approach to government funding of new local and regional train services, Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon announced Thursday.
In a statement released Thursday, the Department for Transport (DfT) said it could take over long-term financial support for new or enhanced rail services that are promoted successfully by local authorities and Passenger Transport Authorities.
According to the transport department, many local authorities have found it difficult to take forward improved services because of the potentially high running costs involved. Under this new approach, after a successful trial period, local authorities could ask the DfT to consider supporting the services through a franchise agreement.
“This new approach could bring real benefits for passengers by encouraging
local authorities and train companies to work together to introduce new or
improved services,” Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said. “The availability of funding should provide the encouragement local authorities are looking for if they believe there’s a sound case based on passenger demand for improving a service or bringing in a new one. ”
The DfT has said that for local authorities to take advantage of the new scheme, they must first identify the best way of meeting a local transport need. If a train service offers the best solution and has support from the rail industry, the local authority must then show that the rail scheme has a business case, secure the necessary start-up capital funding, (through sources such as the Regional Funding Allocation), and commit to funding the service for at least three years.
If successful the new service could then be included within a franchise agreement, guaranteeing its future operation, the DfT added. Services which have proved successful could get funding from April 2014, from a budget set in 2012.